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Underscore Marketing President and blogger Tom Hespos sent us this help wanted ad for a sandwich shop which we just couldn't resist sharing with you. While preparing salad is a much needed skill in a restaurant, wording the need for such expertise can, in this case, be a bit misleading.
Maybe some of you remember that thing called CueCat which made it's appearance about seven years ago. The purpose of the device, a plastic, cat-shaped object that plugged into your computer, was to scan bar codes in ads and, if connected to the Internet, take you to a page that would deliver more information about the advertised product. It failed. Miserably. Now, we have AdLink, a service that does the same thing yet without that cumbersome plastic cat. We predict it will have about as much success at the CueCat did.
As part of a McDonald's Japan promotion, the burger giant, along with Coke, gave away 10,000 MP3 players to those who purchased specially marked cups of Coke. Unfortunately, the MP3 players were infested with QQPass, a piece of spyware, that, once connected to people's PCs, allowed hackers access to passwords and other personal information. McDonald's issued a public apology and a recall for the infected MP3 players. It's unclear whether the company made any restitution for any data lost by those who were infected.
Contextual ad buffoonery isn't limited to the online world as clearly illustrated by the placement of this ad, sent to us by FishNChimps, for online supermarket Sainsbury's on the page opposite a story in yesterday's edition of the UK's The Independent about the Amish killings. What's even more buffoonish about this particular instance of buffoonery is that the ad appeared on page three of a printed newspaper which, one would assume, gets seen by human editors before it goes to print. We're guessing there was a big, collective "oops" heard 'round The Independent offices once that issue hit the streets.
Add to the ever growing list of contextual fuckery this Pure Gum Spirits Turpentine ad which appeared directly next to a CNN story about a teen who drank turpentine to terminate her pregnancy. The kicker is the ads tagline, "Nature's Solvent." Yup, turpentine sure does make it easier to dissolve that fetus and make it really easy to slide right out into that trash can. Aside from the intellectually-challenged human idiocy that surrounds the use of these freakish remedies, the placement of this ad has to be the most freakish contextual placement fuck up to date. Can we possibly put an end to our own industry idiocy that causes these idiotic mistakes?
Paul Conley digs deep into an issue about which we have strong opinions. More and more, we are seeing online editorial infiltrated by text link ads from the likes of companies such as IntelliTXT. It, no doubt, crosses the line between advertising and editorial. We don't claim to be perfect here at Adrants. We all need ad revenue to make money but text link ads just go too far. They are annoying with their little pop up bubbles and misleading in that a link in edit should lead to other edit or a referenced website, not an ad.
Conley points out InteliTXT says it uses "in-text placement to cut through the online advertising clutter." Oxymoronic. In-text placements *add* to the clutter. They don't cut through it. In the past, IntelliTXT has asked us if we'd like to use their service here on Adrants. We quickly and politely declined. If humble Adrants can make enough money without text-link ads then one would think a giant company like VNU could live without them as well. Apparently not.
Someday marketers are going to wake up and realize that humans are, in fact , a much needed entity in the creation and management of online ad campaigns and that some aspects of those campaigns shouldn't be left to a bunch of servers in some sever farm in the middle of nowhere. This latest contextual corrigendum comes courtesy of IntelliTXT, that company that places annoying roll over pop ups linked to text in articles on many sites such as the Atlanta Journal Constitution. In this AJC.com article about the sudden death of Anna Nicole Smith's son, we find an ad offering 10 to 20 percent off Smiths at Target as if Anna might want to drop by Target and pick up a new son with her credit card.
Usually, we'd offer witty kudos to those marketers who manage to squeeze in a bit of well timed self promotion when offering a quote to the media but capitalizing on 9-11 kinda goes a bit overboard as indicated by this Kenneth Cole quote given to the New York Daily News yesterday.
"Important moments like this are a time to reflect," Cole added. "To remind us, sometimes, that it's not only important what you wear, but it's also important to be aware." Yea Kenneth, it's not only important how you die, but it's also important what you buy.
Dear Casale Media,
Please stop serving insanity-inducing, seizure-causing pop unders. Please stop usurping people's decision to block pops by circumventing their browser's pop blocking mechanisms. Please stop foisting crap on us like a pointless Coke versus Pepsi taste test. And Coke, Pepsi, do you really want your brand portrayed in an ad unit that is more maligned than a telemarketer call? Casale, you are huge. You have the biggest booth at every ad:tech show. Surely you have revenue streams other than those that cause people to want to convert themselves into digital 1's and 0's, climb inside their computers, travel through the Internet until they find your ad servers and kick the shit out of them until the words "pop under" and "pop up" are now longer in their vocabulary.
Perhaps there really is some sort of cultural brick wall between New York City and Canada or at least between Montreal's National Bank marketing team and the rest of the entire world. In a laughably out of touch press release, the bank claims it is "once again on the cutting edge of advertising with a colourful new event: a flash mob, used to promote the Bank's role as the presenting sponsor of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament." Colorful new event? Hello? Flash Mobs came and went three years ago, my Canadian friends. It's 2006 this year, not 2003. If calling a three year old trendlet cutting edge weren't bad enough, the bank isn't even conducting a flash mob. All it's doing is unleashing 40 young women dressed in tennis apparel who will roam the streets of Montreal during rush hour August 9 passing out tickets to a tennis match at the Rogers Cup August 12 to 20. Idiots. That's not a flash mob. That's street marketing.